SXSW – the story so far.

It is Sunday morning. I’ve been here since Wednesday evening so here is my half-time report.

Sessions attended: 10

I’ve been to talks by Al Gore, Tim Ferris, Harry Knowles, Biz Stone and Robert Kirkman as well as smaller talks about Wikipedia vs PR, how politicians on the world stage use Twitter, the US State Department’s digital outreach via bar camps and ‘virtual’ interns and finally what is next for civic tech. I enjoyed them all to some extent (Harry Knowles was the biggest disappointment and Biz Stone seemed to have stepped straight out of ’Silicon Valley’ which was amusing) and have instituted a policy of leaving during the Q and As rather than get frustrated by the statement/questions 🙂

Talks given: 1

My talk seemed to go OK. About 50 people attended which turns out to be a good number for these smaller sessions but a decent percentage of them implemented the ‘law of two feet’. I tried to cover a lot of bases – from digital government transformation through to open data and open statistics and encourage the audience to ask questions to make it more of a conversation. Unfortunately there weren’t really enough questions to make this work so I wrapped the session early. Thanks to Rebecca from for coming along and asking 90% of the questions – saved the session really! I think there is probably a really interesting ‘fantasy’ session about sharing theUK/US experiences in Gov data/digital.

Food trucks visited: 4

Food trucks are a big thing here and I have to say I have been taking advantage of that. I’ve particularly enjoyed visiting Kebabalicious and Nomad so far and I’ve enjoyed a taco or two 🙂 I have not yet succumbed to the ‘artisan grilled cheese’ truck!

Interviews given: 1

Was interviewed by a member of the German press about my thoughts on the Wikipedia vs PR session as I was the only person attending (apart from one of the panel members) not from a PR/Marketing background and who outed himself as a Wikipedia supporter.

Beers consumed: Less than you would expect.

The time difference is killing me and the crowds are crazy. I know everybody warned me about the amount of people but it is still taking some getting used to. When I have managed to fight my way to a bar my preference has been Jackalope and a few Fire Eagles (a very nice IPA that geekily reminds me of that old Yahoo project.) Also Mugshots seems like a bar I could get used to apart from the music!

A bar related aside: Austin seems to have a spectacular tattoo culture – everybody working in every bar seems to have genuine works of art inked on them to a standard I rarely if ever see in the UK.

Connections made: A few.

I mentioned Rebecca from and she pointed me at Jeff Meisel who is a Presidential Innovation Fellow working on Census data so I am going to catch up with him. Cassie from Tech for Good TV is here so I’m trying to meet up with her. I had a nice chat with Alexandra and Aurelie from the EU Council who are doing some interesting work with social media. Probably need to work a bit harder at this bit!

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